Opinion » Shredder

Trash talk



If you want to see a microcosm of how government doesn't work, look no further than the board overseeing the utter shit show that is the Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA)—the public agency that manages SLO County's garbage, recycling, and hazardous waste disposal programs.


The IWMA board consists of the five county supervisors, a representative from each city (Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo), and a community services districts rep. Lucky 13!

How have they been doing? Well, IWMA's former staff has been accused of fraud, embezzlement, and destruction of public records. The new interim director who was hired to "clean up" the agency, Paavo Ogren, quit after a few weeks on the job. He was the third director in three years. Sounds like the board's "oversight" was a tad lacking and that the interim director couldn't find a big enough garbage can to clean up the IWMA mess.

Now the board of 13 is trying to figure out what to do, and predictably, they're parked squarely at dysfunction junction. Why wouldn't they be? The SLO County Board of Supervisors and the various city councils of the county can't even come to an agreement about straw and single-use plastic bag bans, and then the IWMA voted for a polystyrene ban! Everybody freak out!

The three conservative supes—Debbie Arnold, Lynn Compton, and John Peschong—would just as soon burn the IWMA to the ground and start their own agency to deal with the county's garbage. Meanwhile, liberal supervisors Bruce Gibson and Dawn Ortiz-Legg think the IWMA can be fixed, which doesn't matter because they were outvoted at the Aug. 10 Board of Supervisors meeting! The county officially wants out, which threw an already troubled organization into even more disarray!

Now, the IWMA is basically a rudderless ship, and Paso Robles is also talking about a possible divorce from the IWMA. What other cities will jump ship? The question is what will happen to the millions of dollars in the IWMA's accounts that have been collected from county residents in fees? Show me the money!

Among this chaos is the looming issue of SB 1383, which aims to regulate organic waste. Starting in January of 2022, the new regulations take effect, which include state enforcement of a 50 percent reduction in organic waste disposal that was proposed in 2020, increasing to 75 percent in January 2025. Implementing these new regulations is going to cost money, so do we stay or do we go? A consultant estimate calculated the county would likely spend between $1.5 million and $2 million per year to deal with waste management in-house. That's just for the unincorporated parts of the county.

I mean, it's not like the IWMA is prepared to deal with SB 1383, but will a brand new agency effectively deal with all our garbage? California throws away 6 million tons of food waste every year, and SB 1383 requires that half must be diverted from landfills now and three-fourths in 2025.

This is quite a mess we're in, and the 13 people in a position to get us out of it can't get themselves together, which means more costs to taxpayers. Prepare for your garbage bill to rise like methane gas from a stinking pile of organic waste.

And speaking of taxpayers' money being spent wantonly, kiss $215 million to $400 million goodbye. That's the estimated cost of the Gov. Gavin Newsom recall election, courtesy of California Republicans who looked back to the 2003 recall election that jettisoned Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and installed Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. Could lightning strike twice? Republicans hope so!

You've probably received your mail-in ballot for the recall, which asks two questions: Should Newsom be recalled? (Yes or no?) Who should replace him? (Pick among 46 candidates who each submitted 65 signatures of registered voters and paid a $4,194.94 filing fee). Even though Newsom has by most accounts been a pretty good governor, effectively managing the pandemic and leaving the state in good fiscal health, conservatives have a real shot at taking him down. They're the ones who are fired up, after all. They may be more likely to vote.

And so many choices! Conservative talk show host and author Larry Elder desperately wants you to pick him, but slow down, turbo! What about podcast host David Alexander Bramante? Or pastor and software developer Sam L. Gallucci? David Hillberg, actor and aircraft mechanic? Caitlyn Jenner, reality TV host, transgender rights activist, and former Olympic athlete? Rapper Nickolas Wildstar?

Don't forget the Green Party candidates, hairstylist Heather Collins and criminal defense attorney and former Hustler magazine editor Dan Kapelovitz! Or non-affiliated pink-clad actress, singer, model, and LA icon Angelyne!

If you want to swap one Democrat for another, how about college-student-who-scraped-$4K-together John R. Drake, or actor and screenwriter Patrick Kilpatrick, or cannabis advocate Jacqueline McGowan, or YouTuber and landlord Kevin Paffrath!

Oh boy! How to decide? So many qualified Nutty McNuttersons to chose from! California is one of 19 states that allow recalls, and seven of the previous nine governors have faced unsuccessful recall attempts. Maybe the rest of the country is right, and we are wackos. Δ

The Shredder can be written in for the Newsom recall ... just sayin'. Send comments and suggestions to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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